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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4


Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0048

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-04-20

To James Warren

Last Evening, a Letter was received, by a Friend of yours,1 from Mr. John Penn, one of the Delegates from North Carolina, lately returned home to attend the Convention of that Colony, in which he { 131 } informs, that he heard nothing praised in the Course of his Journey, but Common sense and Independence. That this was the Cry, throughout Virginia. That North Carolina, were making great Preparations for War, and were determined, to die poor and to die hard, if they must die, in Defence of their Liberties. That they had, repealed, or Should repeal their Instructions to their Delegates against Independence. That South Carolina had assumed a Government chosen a Council, and John Rutledge Esqr., President of that Council with all the Powers of a Governor, that they have appointed Judges and that Drayton is Chief Justice.2 “In short, sir, says this Letter, The Vehemence of the southern Colonies is such, as will require the Coolness of the Northern Colonies, to restrain them from running to Excess.”
Inclosed you have a little Pamphlet,3 the Rise and Progress of which you shall be told.
Mr. Hooper and Mr. Pen of North Carolina, received from their Friends in that Colony, very pressing Instances to return home and attend the Convention, and at the Same Time to bring with them every Hint they could collect, concerning Government.
Mr. Hooper, applied to a certain Gentleman, acquainted him with the Tenor of his Letters and requested that Gentleman to give him his sentiments upon the subject. Soon afterwards Mr. Pen applied to the Same Gentleman, and acquainted him with the Contents of his Letters, and requested the same Favour.
The Time was very Short. However the Gentleman thinking it an opportunity, providentially thrown in his Way, of communicating Some Hints upon a subject, which seems not to have been sufficiently considered in the southern Colonies, and so of turning the Thought of Gentlemen that Way, concluded to borrow a little Time from his sleep and accordingly wrote with his own Hand, a Sketch, which he copied, giving the original to Mr. Hooper and the Copy to Mr. Penn, which they carried with them to Carolina. Mr. Wythe getting a sight of it, desired a Copy which the Gentleman made out from his Memory as nearly as he could. Afterwards Mr. Serjeant of New Jersey, requested another, which the gentleman made out again from Memory, and in this he enlarged and amplified a good deal, and sent it to Princetown. After this Coll. Lee, requested the same Favour. But the Gentleman, having written amidst all his Engagements five Copies, or rather five sketches, for no one of them was a Copy of the other, which amounted to Ten Sheets of Paper, pretty full and in a fine Hand was quite weary of the office. To avoid the Trouble of writing any more he borrowed Mr. Wythes Copy and lent it to Coll. Lee, who has put { 132 } it under Types and thrown it into the Shape you see. It is a Pity it had not been Mr. Serjeants Copy for that is longer and more compleat, perhaps more correct. This is very incorrect, and not truly printed. The Design however is to mark out a Path, and putt Men upon thinking. I would not have this Matter communicated.
I think, by all the Intelligence We have that North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey will erect Governments, before the Month of June expires. And, if New York should do so too Pennsylvania, will not neglect it. At least I think so.
There is a particular, Circumstance relative to Maryland, which you will learn eer long, but am not at Liberty to mention at present, but will produce important Consequences in our favour, I think.4
But, after Governments shall be assumed, and a Confederation formed, We shall have a long, obstinate and bloody War to go through and all the Arts, and Intrigues of our Enemies as well as the Weakness and Credulity of our Friends to guard against.
A Mind as vast as the Ocean, or Atmosphere is necessary to penetrate and comprehend all the intricate and complicated Interests which compose the Machine of the Confederat Colonies. It requires all the Philosophy I am Master of and more than all, at Times to preserve that serenity of Mind and Steadiness of Heart, which is necessary to watch the Motives, of Friends and Enemies, of the Violent and the Timid, the Credulous and the dull, as well as the Wicked.
But if I can contribute ever so little towards preserving the Principles of Virtue and Freedom in the World, my Time and Life will be not ill spent.
A Man must have a wider Expansion of Genius than has fallen to my share to see to the End of these great Commotions. But, on such a full sea are We now afloat, that We must be content to trust, to Winds and Currents with the best Skill We have, under a kind Providence to land us in a Port of Peace, Liberty and Safety.
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.).
1. Probably Samuel Adams.
2. Responding to the advice given by the congress earlier, South Carolina on 26 March adopted a constitution which was meant to serve until reconciliation with Great Britain could be achieved, although some believed that reconciliation would never come. Rutledge and Henry Laurens, who was chosen vice president, were on the moderate side, but William Henry Drayton, despite his earlier defense of British authority, had become one of the extremists urging a complete break with Great Britain (David Duncan Wallace, The Life of Henry Laurens, N.Y., 1915, p. 221–223; John R. Alden, The South in the Revolution, 1763–1789, Baton Rouge, 1957, p. 183).
3. Thoughts on Government. For an evaluation of JA's account of the history of its writing, see Thoughts on Government, ante 27 March–April, Editorial Note (above).
{ 133 }
4. JA was probably referring to a congressional order to the Maryland Council of Safety for the arrest of Gov. Robert Eden, who had sent military information to Lord George Germain. Gen. Charles Lee had sent an intercepted letter addressed to Eden and a recommendation for his arrest to a Baltimore official, who had in turn forwarded the intercepted letter and Lee's recommendation to the congress on 14 April. Despite the congressional order, the Council of Safety was satisfied to receive assurances from Eden that he would not leave the province (Ronald Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension: Economics, Politics, and the Revolution in Maryland, Baltimore, 1973, p. 157–159).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0049

Author: Baldwin, Jeduthun
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-20

From Jeduthun Baldwin

[salute] Sir

Soon after I came to this place I took the freedom to write you.1 I once more ask leave to inform you that this morning I am to set out for Quebeck. I leave this place so well fortified, that there is little to fear from the Enemys coming here, and good Batteries on Each side of the narrows, on Long Island, and on Straton Island, would, affectually secure this harbour, and River, as the distance acrosst the water from the places which the batteries are to be built, (or may be) is about ¾ Rods. The Forts on the Heights will not be more than one Mile and a Quarter a part, acrosst the water. I was down 2 Days agon and took the Distance. I suppose that works will be erected there, but dont know the determination of the General. When I received orders to go to Quebeck, Genl. Washington said that he would write again to the Congress with respect to my wages, that he was sencible that the pay I had received was not equal to the service,2 and that I was to be Chief Engineer at Quebeck, which I suppose will be submitted to the determination of the Honble. Congress. Your influence and intrest in this matter will Oblige your most Obedient Very Humble Servant,
[signed] Jeduthun Baldwin
1. Baldwin to JA, 28 March (above).
2. See Baldwin to JA, 21 Jan. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0050

Author: Chase, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-21

From Samuel Chase

[salute] My Dear Sir

I left Fort George on last Fryday afternoon and arrived at this place yesday Evening. I have just seen a Gentleman, who left Quebec on the 6th Instant. General Worster arrived there on the 1st. On the 3rd. { 134 } We opened a four Gun Battery of 9 pounders on point Levy. Another was erecting on the Plains of Abraham, and a third on Passage []1 which would be finished in a few days. We on the 6th. had before Quebec, 2500, of which about 800 are in the Hospital (the far greater part of the small Pox) and about 1000 whose Enlistment expired the 15th. In the late Skirmish there were 7 Canadians killed, 4 wounded, 2 since dead, and 38 taken prisoners. The rest dispersed, and delivered up Carltons Letter which induced them to take up arms. We have here 800 Troops, and Sinclears Regiment will reach this on Tuesday. I am informed of Warrens Regiment,2 of green Mountain Boys there were only 90 fit for Duty.
I have been at Tionderago, and am satisfied it would not be proper to repair it. The Expence would be great. It is commanded on each Side, and would be releived with great Difficulty. The Schooner, Royal Savage, pierced for 16 Guns of 4, 6 and 9 pounders and another Schooner of 6–4 pounders taken at Saint Johns, are repairing, but they have no Guns. They would secure the Command of Lake Champlain against any force which could be brought there this Summer, if we should be so unfortunate as to lose the Possession of Canada. Pray have the Guns returned. They were sent to Cambridge.
If there is no Rule of Congress that no officer should sell to or supply their soldiers, it is high Time. The Expense of conveying their Bagage is very great. Pray attend to this. I believe there is a Resolve against Suttling.3 This is evaded.
I thus drop you a Line as any Intelligence or any Defect in our Regulation occurs without any Regard to Accuracy or precision. Remember Me to all my Friends. Your affectionate Obedt. Servant,
[signed] Saml Chase
1. A blank in the MS.
2. Gideon Warren (Heitman, Register Continental Army, p. 570).
3. Articles of War, LXVI (JCC, 2:122).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/